It is important to draw attention to the requirement in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for managing agents to commission a fire risk assessment (FRA) and to review and implement any of its recommendations. This is not only to ensure that they comply with current legislation, but that the buildings they manage have been assessed for fire risk and, where practical, safety measures have been improved. The greatest risk to life still remains in tall and complex buildings, particularly those where people sleep.
A recent case is worth highlighting. RICS Regulation has just imposed sanctions – comprising a reprimand, a substantial fine and an order for costs – on a firm that had not properly reviewed an FRA and ensured the building was safe. As a result, someone had unfortunately died in a fire, and there was a court conviction.
It is imperative that commissioning an FRA is not just seen as another tick-box exercise. Once received, this assessment has to be reviewed in the light of knowledge of the building and the type of occupants – particularly if they are elderly or infirm – and its recommendations followed up.
RICS has previously highlighted the need to commission appropriately qualified fire risk assessors who belong to an accreditation scheme, such as that run by the Institution of Fire Engineers. In the light of the Hackitt review, reforms with regard to assessing competency are expected in the next year or two; but in the meantime managing agents must ensure the following.
RICS has been taking a lead on improvements in fire safety after Grenfell Tower: this is an issue where the reputation of the profession is at stake.
Gary Strong FRICS is RICS global building standards director email@example.com
Related competencies include: Fire safety